Multiple-Reason Decision Making Based on Automatic Processing

46 Pages Posted: 15 May 2008

See all articles by Andreas Glöckner

Andreas Glöckner

Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods; University of Cologne

Tilmann Betsch

University of Erfurt

Date Written: April 1, 2008


It has been repeatedly shown that in decisions under time constraints, individuals predominantly use noncompensatory strategies rather than complex compensatory ones. We argue that these findings might be due not to limitations of cognitive capacity but instead to limitations of information search imposed by the commonly used experimental tool Mouselab (Payne et al., 1988). We tested this assumption in three experiments. In the first experiment, information was openly presented, whereas in the second experiment the standard Mouselab program was used under different time limits. The results indicate that individuals are able to compute weighted additive decision strategies extremely quickly if information search is not restricted by the experimental procedure. In a third experiment, these results were replicated using more complex decision tasks, and the major alternative explanations that individuals use more complex heuristics or merely encode the constellation of cues were ruled out. In sum, the findings challenge the fundaments of bounded rationality and highlight the importance of automatic processes in decision making.

Keywords: Automatic Information Integration, One Reason Decision Making, Mouselab, Probabilistic Inferences, Process Tracing, Time Limits, Intuition

Suggested Citation

Glöckner, Andreas and Betsch, Tilmann, Multiple-Reason Decision Making Based on Automatic Processing (April 1, 2008). MPI Collective Goods Preprint, No. 2008/12. Available at SSRN: or

Andreas Glöckner (Contact Author)

Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods ( email )

Kurt-Schumacher-Str. 10
D-53113 Bonn, 53113


University of Cologne ( email )

Richard-Strauss-Str. 2
Köln, 50931


Tilmann Betsch

University of Erfurt ( email )

Internationales Buro
Nordhaeuser Str. 63
D - 99089 Erfurt

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